By Chris Eversole
Extending the John Kilpatrick Turnpike through the Mustang area is painful now, but the relief is coming, an Oklahoma Turnpike Authority representative said.
The bottleneck where the existing turnpike dumps onto SW 15 Street – west of Mustang Creek Elementary and Mustang North Middle School – will open in April or May, projected Joe Echelle, assistant to the authority’s executive director.
Factors contributing to traffic backups are:
- Problem: The exit and entrance onto S.W. 15th Street are using one lane each way – on the southbound exit.
- Solution: When work is completed on the northbound entrance (which is east of a new bridge), traffic flow will improve.
- Problem: Traffic around the bridge is using only two new lanes.
- Solution: The completed project will have four traffic lanes and a turn lane.
- Problem: Roadbuilding equipment interrupts traffic from time to time.
- Solution: This will stop when work is completed.
“We’re using a flagman as well as the traffic signal to help with traffic,” Echelle said.
“We appreciate people’s patience during construction.”
The Turnpike Authority is behind schedule because of weather. “We had the wettest September on record and a very wet January,” he said.
“Whenever we have an inch of rain, it puts us behind schedule two to three days while the ground dries out.”
Another impact on traffic is that Morgan Road will be closed between SW 59th Street and SW 44th Street for up to two months from now.
While the traffic impacts are high now, much of the building of the turnpike roadway – which began last January – has been completed.
“It’s like building a house,” Echelle said. “We have the walls up and the roof on, and we’re moving into the finishing work.”
The finishing work includes completing the interchanges – at SW 15th Street, at Sara Rd/SW 29th Street, at Morgan Road and at State Highway 152/Airport Road.
The final phase will be installing toll booths. The Turnpike Authority recently awarded the bid for the toll booths, bringing the total of five contracts for the extension to $190 million.
The turnpike exits other than the SW 15th Street one are:
- Sara Road/SW 29th Street
- Morgan Road
- State Highway 152/Airport Road
The turnpike extension project will be accompanied by a widening of Sara Road from just north of SW 29th Street to State Highway 152.
The Sara Road project is jointly funded by the turnpike authority, the city of Oklahoma City and the city of Mustang.
Land is being purchased for the Sara Road project, and construction will begin after all of the land is bought, Echelle said.